Seahawks Survive a Squeaker

The Seahawks have to fix some things in their running game after Detroit shut down reigning MVP Shaun Alexander in the opener. "They did the best job in a long time of sliding linebackers around, sliding d-linemen around, never letting us be quite comfortable with what we think we see," Alexander explained. "If you do that to our running game, it gives us problems."

Teams that move around so much generally find themselves out of position, opening the door for Alexander to break long runs. That has been the case particularly against the Cardinals, who visit Qwest Field for Seattle's home opener in Week 2. Alexander broke an 88-yard run when the Cardinals over-pursued him at Arizona last season.

The Lions were much more disciplined, and their scheme proved too much for Seattle's ground game to handle. The Seahawks wound up having a tougher time against Detroit than they had against Pittsburgh in their previous game at Ford Field. "Definitely," Alexander said. "You're going to get that in the first game of the season. Nine times out of 10 it's going to be much harder than your last game because the rhythm and playing at real speed, even in the preseason it's not even as fast as the regular season."

The Seahawks have started slowly on offense before. They suffered a 26-14 loss at Jacksonville to open last season. By season's end, Seattle led the league in scoring. "We've already talked and we're like, 'OK, they got us,'" Alexander said. "And we know that every defense is going to be excited to play against our running game.

"They came in and set a tone with us and we all know, we've already talked about it, we're going to fix some things and we're going to be a very good running team again."

REPLAY

The Seahawks escaped Ford Field with a 9-6 victory over the Lions thanks to a late drive to the winning 42-yard field goal as time expired. Detroit had blocked two previous field-goal tries, but Josh Brown came through when it mattered most.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck completed 25 of 30 passes for 210 yards, but the Seahawks struggled offensively. RB Shaun Alexander averaged only 2.7 yards per carry as Seattle struggled to match up
against Lions DT Shaun Rogers. LT Walter Jones suffered an ankle injury that left him at less than full strength for the remainder of the game.

The Seahawks did come to life offensively when the game was on the line. Hasselbeck completed a 14-yard pass to wide receiver D.J. Hackett. Wide receiver Darrell Jackson reversed field to pick up 13
more yards. Alexander broke free for a 14-yard run, his longest of the game.

And little-used backup running back Maurice Morris squirted free for a 17-yard gain, getting out of bounds with 16 seconds remaining. The big run from Morris set up Brown's winning field goal.

Seattle's defense kept the Seahawks in the game, limiting the Lions to 2.2 yards per carry and 15 first downs.

PLAYER NOTES

--WR Darrell Jackson started and appeared to be at full strength. He helped move Seattle into position for the winning field goal by reversing field and racing away from defenders for a 13-yard gain in the final minutes.

--QB Matt Hasselbeck showed his toughness and leadership by fighting to the finish despite taking five sacks. Hasselbeck absorbed an early shot to the head. He also suffered bruised ribs. But he still managed to complete 25 of 30 passes for 210 yards, and he did not turn over the ball. Hasselbeck completed both pass attempts on the drive to the winning field goal.

--RB Shaun Alexander already has as many fumbles (one) as he suffered all of last season. "I'm not even sure if he hit me," Alexander said. "It looked like I was running the option and the Detroit guy was the tailback. I was running and I turned in and I thought he was going to get an arm on me. I felt like he missed me and I just kind of threw the ball. I think it was just probably trying to do too much."

--K Josh Brown had two field goals blocked, but he also made three attempts, including the game winner as time expired. Brown is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

--LB Leroy Hill was inactive Sunday because of a stinger injury suffered during preseason. There's a good chance Hill will return for the second game of the season.


Postgame Transcripts

HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI:

Opening statement:
"We played a very hard, tough football team. We tried to match them physically and I thought we did. It's not good enough - right off the bat. I'm not interested in playing hard and well, I'm interested in winning. We didn't do enough. We beat ourselves- we had penalties; they had penalties and we've got to take care of the ball. All the detailed things we have to do and get better at. This is about team still - offense, defense - all three phases. That's what I'm going to teach and that's what I believe in - there are no options; there's no solution other than winning - that's it. I won't accept anything less - anything less - so you can write that we played hard, I don't care; that's not an interest to me. That's you're interest, my interest is winning and that's something we have to work at and continue to understand that we have to finish games and do things exactly right - all the time."

On what happened in the last drive with the game on the line: "Execution on their part, I give them credit. They completed a couple of passes, they popped a run in there, they had a run they popped on the back-side, cut-back and we got to be in position to make those plays and that's what I'm talking about. At the end, I want to win it and that's what I expect."

On if he thought they played hard and well on the defense: "Yeah, I think we did; but, I want more than that. We've got to be able to together as a team come out and win this thing."

On K Jason Hanson short on the field goal: "It might have been, I couldn't tell if it was tipped or not too. It might have been tipped a little bit. At that point, I just felt we were playing defense - we were playing dominate defense at that point - so, I was hoping to back them up again and get a three-and-out and hopefully get another shot at a short field and maybe run in it and win it."

On why the offense struggled so much in getting into the end zone: "I think there were times that we just kind of self-destructed. You know? We beat ourselves. Penalties hurt us and holding, communication things, we just beat ourselves. That's something we just can't do - good football teams don't beat themselves."

On if he felt they didn't maximize on several offensive opportunities: "Yeah, you know we didn't. We had some real good opportunities early and that's something a good football team - which we're going to be - has got to do. They have to do those things well."

On the pass to the back side of RB Shawn Bryson: "I couldn't - some of these things I'll be able to help on Monday a little bit more when I see the film and see it all. Right now, I wouldn't do your question justice; I'll do a better job (Monday) for you."

On the performance of the defensive line: "I thought they played well. I thought they played well."

On having any concerns for DT Shaun Rogers going in: "No I didn't. He had two really great days of practice in pads - he did. I mentioned that to you the other day. I'll be very honest, I've coached some of the best that ever played the position, I think he's as good as any I've ever been around. The guy can take a game over. He played hard from snap to whistle all the way through the game; but, he's just got to maybe one more step, one more thing, one more sack and that's what you have to do. I tried to play it a close game at the end, and tried to put it in the hands of our defense and see if we could win it there."

On if the offense showed what they were 'hiding' in the preseason and if he paid the price for not running everything he wanted to run: "No, you run everything in practice. We were going to run our base offense since last March. Doing the things that we do - or whenever our first minicamp was, but I don't think so. There are no excuses, there's none. What you got to do when you come under pressure in a game, you have to put the pressure on the men to perform. There are no excuses. I'm not going to do that. Plays are called; we got to execute, we have to do what we're supposed to do."

On if he feels it was a bad start to the season: "Bad start - we're 0-1."

On how he feels about taking the field as a head coach for the first time: "Oh I love it - I just love it - I love competing. I thrive on the competition, I thrive on this stuff. To see men wanting to get excited - that's what I'm about. The competition and competing and playing every snap - you just got to win though. The challenge is the winning."

On his impression of the fans: "I think they're great. Great fans, it's a great city, great town. We just have to go do our job and win."

On LB Ernie Sims playing in his first pro game: "It seemed like he was showing up a lot - my eyes were really glued to the front today - I had to be on those guys; but, I felt him, I really felt him in the game. It looked like he was flying."


SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH MIKE HOLMGREN

Opening statement:
"It was a dynamic offensive struggle. First of all I'd like to give credit to Rod (Marinelli) and the Lions. I think they played a very inspired, hard fought football game and it's evident that they're going to battle the whole time. We feel good about the win, however. You travel on the road in the NFL, the toughest thing to do is win. I thought our guys hung in there pretty well. I thought it looked a little grim at the end. Neither team was doing a whole lot offensively, or at least getting to the point where you had to kick long field goals. The feeling was that it was going to come down to one of those and fortunately near the end when we finally got the ball back with a couple of minutes to go, (D.J.) Hackett made a nice catch, Mo Morris made a nice run and gave us a chance to kick the long field goal. It's a good feeling to win the first one in any season. If you remember last year, we traveled to Jacksonville and couldn't get it done. We have a lot of work to do and we want to get back home. This is a good win and I told the players: 'enjoy it.'

On the blocked field goals: "They blocked the first two, and it was a different area each time, and we just didn't do a good job up front. To me, it's one of those things where the snap from center where sometimes on your practice field you kind of step through it; you don't really bang around - you don't want anybody getting hurt. We stepped through it and when the game starts it's quite different and we just didn't do a good job up front. I suspect we'll do a much better job the rest of the year because that can't happen. Usually when that happens - we had the other turnover on the fumble - you don't win. You don't win games like that. It's inexcusable and we're going to fix that."

On what he sees a problem with: "I thought they did a heck of a job on defense. They got us changing plays a little bit too much, in my opinion. They went in with the idea of doing a couple of things and I think we probably overdid it and we can fix that as coaches. I think they ran a couple of tackle-in games that were very effective. I think they have pretty good talent, in my opinion, up front. I think Shaun Rogers is a good football player, he didn't play much in the preseason for them, but we know he's a good football player. (James) Hall's a good football player. They've got good football players up front and they took advantage of us. We got a little nicked there for a second. One series was really a bad series and we were kind of 'jimmy-riggin' a couple of things for our protections and it showed. They took advantage of it."

On re-adjusting his offensive line: "Well, Walt (T Walter Jones) got hurt, so Tommy's (T Tom Ashworth) been our swing tackle, but we had talked about if something happened to Walt early - Chop (G Floyd Womack) has more experience, so we would probably move Chop, particularly with Chris Spencer at center and guard. It happened rather quickly, so Tommy went in and then of course we gave up a sack on the next play. Then there was a clock stoppage of some kind that allowed us to do what we talked about perhaps if something had happened to Walt early. So we moved Chop outside for another play and then brought Spencer in. Then they tape up Walter and he went back in the game and we got back to the regular unit."

On the play of his defense: "It's encouraging to me that we can have a defensive effort like this, but I told the team over and over again, year after year, that you might have a game where you win 35-32 or have to win 35-32, then you have a game like today where you're in it 9-6. The idea of being a team is that in any given week, one side has to pick up the other. Then you have the field goal team, after getting a couple blocked, now you have to kick a game winner. Now they got to do it right and they did it right. There are a lot of lessons in this first game for us. Some we can really build upon. I think defensively, the progress has been good and I'm counting them to continue to improve as well this season and I think we do. We have a chance to have a very fine defense."


SEAHAWKS QB MATT HASSELBECK

On what hurts:
"Nothing hurts; we won. Nothing hurts at all. I hurt my neck a little bit. I ducked my head - I should know better than that - but I did and those guys can hit. Ribs don't feel so good. Like I said, when you win a game it doesn't hurt nearly as much; so now that the game is over I feel okay."

On feeling the pressure: "I think it was a little bit of a wake up call; I forgot what it was like. This is what it's like sometimes - you go on the road, you play a regular season game against a team that is a very active group on defense, they've got a lot of team speed, they run a lot of games. We knew all that going into it - Tampa Bay style defense; Rod Marinelli head coach, well coached. They brought their 'A-game' and played really well. We played well enough, but not our best football. But I give them credit; we knew this going in that they were going to be tough. We probably didn't know they were going to be this tough, but they're a team on the rise. They're going to be pretty good."

On the big plays by his receivers: "Darrell Jackson's reverse was a huge play; it was dangerous play, but a huge play. (D.J.) Hackett 's catch was a huge play; and Maurice Morris - that was awesome. At the end of that play there were 16 seconds. That play really sealed it for us and our offensive line, those guys were hurting just as bad as everybody else; they were all tired. We made a call at the line of scrimmage to adjust our blocking schemes, so not only do they have to use their strength but they had to use their intelligence. And Mack Strong, all those guys, just a huge play and 'Mo' gave us a burst. He's got that speed burst - he gave it to us - and was smart enough to get out of bounds. Huge play, a game winning play for us."

On watching the last kick: "I was so tired; I'm not sure if I watched it. I had confidence in those guys. I know that we had struggled early on with our field goal unit, but we've got a lot of confidence, we've got a great snapper and a very good kicker and that's what you need to be successful."

On whether WR Darrell Jackson was supposed to reverse field on that fourth quarter catch: "No he wasn't; he wasn't at all. I'm not really sure of the play, but once he caught it he's not supposed to do that; I know that. He's supposed to get North and South and get down. In fact at one point I think he was running towards me and I tried to tell him, 'No. No. No.' and he didn't listen. It was an amazing play and honestly, it kind of gassed everybody, it gassed their defense a little bit too. It's just one of those plays that's crazy."


SEATTLE K JOSH BROWN

On how the game ended:
"It was a great way to finish it, the guys fought hard there. For a moment it looked like it might go the other way, but we were able to get down the field far enough and had the chance to make the field goal."

On his thoughts when the second field goal was blocked: "I'm thinking: 'how is this possible.' We are a very precise team; we have a great group of guys; we had a great practice and we had a really good preseason. I feel like we have great rhythm now. Just for a moment there, we had a small breakdown and they turned it into big mistakes - but we capitalized."

On if there was any seed of doubt kicking the final field goal the game: "No seed of doubt. It's not a matter of if we can do the job; weknow we can do the job. We just have to get off on the ball and get a good hit."


SEATTLE DE GRANT WINSTROM

On if the game went differently than expected today:
"No, coming in with coach Marinelli taking over I knew they were going to play very hard nose competitive defense. With Coach Martz, you knew they were going to be more competitive on offense. We expected a fourth quarter football game and that's exactly what we got."

On the positive of today's win: "Anytime you win on the road its good. Defensively, we only gave up six points which is pretty darn good. Offensively and defensively we have a lot of things we need to work on."

On what Seattle needs to improve on: "Tackling, third downs, giving up the long ball and rushing the passer. There are a lot of things we need to work on."

On the feeling of coming and winning, after losing the last visit to Ford Field: "Honestly, I didn't give a lot of thought to it. It's just another city and another place we need to go play and win a football game." 


SEAHAWKS RB SHAUN ALEXANDER

Opening statement:
"This feels just like the beginning of last year, and I said it last year that if our defense plays like this we're going to win a bunch of games and the sky's going to be the limit with a defense like that. And that's what they did. And Detroit - their d-line played great. They controlled the line of scrimmage and it was a great challenge, and we knew it was going to be one. Our defense matched what their defense was doing. It's exciting to be 1-0 and win a game like that, especially early in the season because it sets the tone for, 'hey even if it looks bad, we can still win.'"

On the kicker: "It's Josh Brown. Josh hits 50-yarders in his sleep. He can wake up out of a nap and go hit that. So I was just believing what I always believe is that if the game's on the line, he's going to win it for us."

On taking away what they do on offense: "They did the best job I've seen in a long time of sliding linebackers around, sliding d-linemen around, never letting us be quite comfortable of what we think we see. If you do that in our running game, it can give us problems. Usually what happens is the teams that do that, somebody overplays and are popped for a long run, but they played their game and it worked really well for them."

On the injury to LT Walter Jones: "It's one of those things that they played a good game, and anytime something good happens, Walt goes down. You kind of hold your breath for a second and go, okay he's coming back in. It's just a weird game."

On his fumble: "I'm not even sure if he hit me. It looked like I was running the option and Detroit, the guy was a tailback; I was the quarterback and I was running and I turned in and I thought he was going to get an arm on me and I felt like he missed me and I kind of threw the ball out there. I think it was probably just trying to do too much and that's why it's good because it's the first game of the season."

On getting a win in Detroit after losing in the city for Super Bowl XL: "I would have rather lost this one and won the last one, but it's good to be 1-0 and we're playing the Detroit Lions and not in the Super Bowl and the hype was not there of course. But the first game of the season is always exciting and for us to leave at 1-0 is a good thing."


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